IRS Registered Tax Return Preparer details prior to court ruling

Updated Feb. 4, 2013

Due to a recent court ruling, the testing and continuing education requirements of the IRS Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) have been suspended. The IRS has clarified that paid tax return preparers are still required to have and use a PTIN and has reopened the online PTIN system. To apply for or renew a PTIN, please visit the IRS PTIN site.

The content below was true prior to the Jan. 18, 2013 court ruling. It remains on our website for your reference only.

Updated Sept. 18, 2012

The Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) registered tax return preparer (RTRP) regulation monitors the tax return preparation industry by requiring anyone who prepares federal returns for payment to obtain a preparer tax identification number (PTIN) prior to the start of tax season. In addition, some non-CPAs must comply with testing and education components under the new regulation.

PTIN information

Apply for or renew your PTIN through the IRS online or by mail. For the 2013 tax season, an initial PTIN costs $64.25 and a renewed PTIN costs $63. PTINs must be renewed annually prior to beginning tax work.

Online PTIN renewal- recommended
PTIN renewal paper application 

How will you be impacted?

Active CPAs

Active CPAs paid to work on federal tax returns must maintain a PTIN prior to signing off on any work during the 2013 tax season.

Aside from needing to maintain a PTIN, CPAs, attorneys and enrolled agents are exempt from the other requirements of the RTRP regulation. This is due to the rigorous process involved with earning and maintaining these specific credentials.

Non-CPAs working for CPA firms

Some non-CPAs who work on federal returns are required to maintain a PTIN. They are not, however, required to comply with testing and educational components related to the RTRP regulation provided they are supervised by a CPA.

IRS scenarios for non-CPAs in need of a PTIN 

Corporate employees responsible for tax filings

If you work on federal filings within a corporate setting, you're not required to comply with this regulation as long as the work you're doing is for your employer. This includes payroll taxes as well as completing an employer's federal return.

Tax Volunteers

Unpaid volunteers who provide tax assistance through groups like VITA and AccountAbility Minnesota are not required to have PTIN. Check with the group you are volunteering with, however, as some are choosing to require a PTIN.

Non-CPA tax return preparers

Non-CPAs who prepare federal tax returns for payment must become a RTRP. To become an RTRP, complete the following steps:

  1. Obtain a PTIN.
  2. Pass the competency exam.
  3. Pass a tax compliance suitability check initiated on your behalf by the IRS.
  4. Receive your RTRP certificate.

Once you are a registered tax return preparer, plan to:

  1. Renew your PTIN annually.
  2. Obtain 15 hours of continuing education.

RTRP details from the IRS 

Note, self-promotion of the ‘registered tax return preparer’ designation is not allowed until an individual has completed all necessary requirements of the regulation including testing, education and a background check.

Inactive CPAs

If you are an inactive CPA who files a handful of returns each year for payment, you must become a RTRP.


PTIN registration and online renewal
Overview of PTIN and RTRP requirements 

Please contact the MNCPA membership department at 952-831-2707, ext. 2 or by email with specific questions related to the IRS registered tax return preparer regulation.

Tax resources

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